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Transdanubia and Eastern Hungary

in the Early Copper Age
Eszter BNFFY

the time of the final collapse of the short or
historical chronology it is important to be able to
compare the calibrated l4C-dates with as detailed
and elaborated relative chronological data as possib
le. Therefore it is still necessary to draw attention to
some problems with the final Neolithic and Early
Copper Age in the Carpathian basin. Although this is
not, in fact, a poorly researched area, I have found
the following unclarified points that are worth to
1. Did the process of Chalcolithisation happen sud
denly in Transdanubia, caused by immigrant
groups of people as assumed earlier, or was it
similar to that of the Tisza region?
2. Why did they not happen at about the same time?
To begin with some general remarks, the transition
between the Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods
should be considered as evidence. While Western
Hungary was filled with the Lengyel II - later the
Lengyel - III population, in the Tisza region the late
Tisza-Herply-Csszhalom groups were in the main
living in tell settlements, which survived till the Early
Tiszapolgr culture. The slow process of Chal
colithisation is well-known, since the Proto-Tiszapolgr-horizon has been identified in the Herply mo
und (KALICZ-RACZKY 1984.33.). It is an established
fact that tell settlements were abandoned gradually,
thus the Early Copper Age began with a slow struc
tural change (PATAY 1983.49.).
Meanwhile, since these periods have been the
focal point of archaeological interest, it has become
clear that instead of concentrated tells, several smaller
provisional settlements came into use together with
separate cemeteries and circular ditches intended for
non profane purposes (KLLAY 1990).
There is also a consensus of opinion in the nomina
tion since the early works of I. Kutzin and later those
of P. Patay (KUTZIN 1963.535-538; KUTZIN 1972.
183-188; PATAY 1974.) that the Copper Age begins with
the Tiszapolgr culture and the Middle Copper Age is
represented by the Bodrogkeresztr culture.
In short, it is fairly well-known when and how
structural change happened in Eastern Hungary. Its
relative chronological situation is reinforced by its

relationship with neighbouring regions and cultures,

such as the Lengyel culture in Transdanubia. In spite
of this evidence, however, there is a contradiction
that has not been solved yet.
First of all, the western part of Hungary is far less
researched in the discussed periods, and the data
known are spread unevenly between Eastern Trans
danubia and the western counties. The main body of
data concerns Eastern Transdanubia, where the fa
mous Zengvrkony and the eponymous Lengyel
settlements are located.
Secondly, parallel to the Tiszapolgr culture, the
phase III of the Lengyel culture lived in Transdanu
bia, which is an integral successor of the classical (II)
phase and thus part of a huge Late Neolithic complex.
From this point of view we can only talk about a
phase displacement between the two main parts of
Hungary. What may have caused this difference?
In the last few years a common project between the
museums in county Zala and the Institute of Archeology
of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences made it possible
to research the well-defined area of the Haht valley
systematically. Apart from smaller traces of Early and
Late Lengyel and Balaton-Lasinja settlements, a large,
more than one km long settlement of the latest Lengyel
culture has been excavated.
A detailed analysis of this settlement together with
some other smaller Early and Middle Chalcolithic sites is
already partly in print and partly in preparation for being
published in a separate volume of the Zala Microregion
Research (BANFFY 1995.). As a consequence, I am only
willing to mention here a few cmcial points from the
results, which belong to our acaial topic.
A part of the site named Zalaszentbalzs-Szlhegyi
mez has formerly been excavated by M. Bondr. In
the last two campaigns the rests of three houses and
some large refuse pits came to light with a rich archae
ological find material from the latest Lengyel culture.
Analyses of the chipped stone industry, animal
bones (detailed results will be published by K. Br,
E. Bcskay and L. Bartosiewicz) and some pottery
types as well as considerable cultic finds reveal a
substantiated image of the Late Neolithic. The vessels
show some typical Lengyel forms, such as large pots
with horizontal, very often spouted handles, pedestalled bowls and smaller mugs with many simple or
perforated knobs. As to these latter clay finds, four

Eszter BNFFY
rectangular oil lamps or little altarpieces, some tiny
pieces of furniture, a larger cult vessel with four long
heads, probably those of animals, and a double
headed ram applied to a clay lid, all fit into the
Lengyel spiritual inheritance well.
There are two phenomena to show that our previous knowledge of the youngest Lengyel phase was
unsufficient: firstly, the pottery is not limited to
thick-walled, undecorated and roughly elaborated
types, rather, a fairly large percentage of the material
belongs to extremely thin, so-called china"-ware,
consisting of small cups, and very often miniature
versions of large vessel types. Secondly, in the socalled unpainted" Lengyel phase there are in many
cases traces of monochrome red paint observable,
especially on the fine ware, on pedestalled vessels
or on altarpieces.
These observations agree with the concept that at the
time of the Tiszapolgr culture one has to reckon on a
retarded Neolithic development in Transdanubia.

Thus, Transdanubia in the Early Copper Age seems

to belong culturally to the Late Neolithic, and the
process of social change seems to have happened
only at the time of the transition to the Middle
Chalcolithic, in East Hungarian terms. What may have
caused this delay?
I must confess that I have not found a single solution
to this problem. However, some factors are worth
mentioning as they might aid the search for the tnith.
The simplest theory is to assume that the delay was
caused by the geographic situation of Western Hungary, so the further we go to the north and west, the
later the prehistoric cultural changes happen. This is
unsatisfactory, as it is contradicted by the parallel
development of the Tisza and Lengyel cultures, as
proven by N. Kalicz, (KALICZ 1970.) not to speak of
earlier Neolithic phases, when the Transdanubian
Linear Pottery culture was no less flourishing than its
Alfld equivalent. Thus we cannot explain the differences so simply.

Fig. 1 Early Copper Age cultures in the Carpathian basin

1. kp Kora rzkori kultrk a Krpt-medencben


Jsa Andrs Mzeum vknyve 1994

Transdanubia and Eastern Hungary in the Early Copper Age

It is only the lack of metal objects from the Late
Lengyel period that can argue for a less advanced
culture in Hungary. The Lengyel period offers no
trace of metal use at a time when Tibava and
Tiszapolgr left copper and gold horizons. This apparent backwardness is somewhat contradicted equalized by the finds of the so-called 3rd copper horizon
(KALICZ 1982. 7.), which is much richer than that of
Transdanubia. Apart from the lack of any Late Lengyel
and Balaton-Lasinja cemeteries - from where most
golden objects come in the Tiszapolgr-Bodrogkeresztr culture, - the Csford-Stollhof type depots occur
rarely and copper imitations of such objects are more
typical (as e.g. in Zalavr-Basasziget - VIRG 1986. or
the similar newly found piece from Hornstaad-Hrnle,
DIECKMANN 1987., STRAHM 1988.).
Some researchers take ecological factors into consideration. According to H. Todorova (TODOROVA
198927.) a strong climatic change took place at the
end of the Neolithic (in Hungarian terms): it was the
warmest time phase since the last Glacial period. This
had its effect on all European regions: although the
sea level rose 3-5 m higher than earlier, (see also
MORRISON 1968.92-98.) the inland steppe regions probably together with Eastern Hungary - began to
deteriorate. As the soil became dry and hard to
cultivate - especially with Neolithic instruments, the
importance of animal farming grew and gradually
took the place of agriculture.
This process, which is easily observable in Eastern
Hungary, influenced Transdanubia to a lesser extent,
because owing to its different landscape, vegetation
and a more humid climate, the deterioration was less
intensive. Therefore, the Late Lengyel population
probably did not have to stop or reduce plant
cultivation for the sake of stock-breeding. (According
to F. Gyulai's oral information, some remains of
cultivated plants such as barley were found in
Zalaszentbalzs in soil samples, and on sherds in the
form of negative imprints.) Thus, ecological factors
could well play a leading role in the retarded Chalcolithisation of Transdanubia.
On the other hand, it is necessary to mention that
some traces of a hidden and slow Chalcolithisation
can be found at this period. First of all, as K.H. Simon
also observed, settlements of the Early Chalcolithic
Lengyel phase and those of the Middle Chalcolithic
Balaton-Lasinja culture are often to be found near
each other, so the preferred land use was the same
in both periods (SIMON 1990.52.). I could add to this
statement that the number of Late Lengyel settlements
has been growing in the last years, so there is no
notable difference for the Balaton-Lasinja-settlements
as it was earlier assumed.
Another argument for the break between the Late
Lengyel and the Balaton-Lasinja groups is that the
latter settled in alpine regions high above sea level,
to areas that had not been populated since the Late

Jsa Andrs Mzeum vknyve 1994

Palaeolithic (KALICZ 1982.5.). In the light of the

above mentioned facts, these provisional settlements
could perhaps be nothing other than traces of a
mobile, stock breeding population. Thus, the existence of alpine settlements is no argument for a
different immigrant group of people, but rather for
the growing importance of animal farming instead of
agriculture. This phenomenon closely corresponds to
the slow structural formation of Copper Age society.
The transition from a few large Neolithic to many
smaller Chalcolithic settlements can perhaps be observed also in Zalaszentbalzs, where different parts
of the longish settlement were not quite simultaneously in use, but some smaller parts of two or three
houses can be distinguished. They were never rebuilt, rather, they were abandoned after their demolition in order to establish a new settlement nucleus
some hundred meters further on.
Having established some possible causes for the relatively retarded development of Transdanubia, and having
referred to a few traces of a hidden Chalcolithisation of
the youngest Lengyel groups, some words now about
the processes which lead to the formation of the Middle
Chalcolithic Balaton- Lasinja culture.
Contrasting to his earlier assumptions, N. Kalicz
distinguished some new types of Lengyel III pottery in
his latest works, such as large bowls with pouring holes
or pedestalled bowls and fruit-stands" with a slightly
bell-shaped support, but he still stresses the differences
between this phase and the Balaton- Lasinja culture
(KALICZ 1991.). Meanwhile, Kalicz regards the black
polished pottery, biconical mugs with hanging knobs
as well as the one-handled jars of the Balaton-Lasinja
culture as proofs of a southern migration to Transdanubia (KALICZ 1973-, KALICZ 1991).
Biconical cups or mugs can perhaps be considered
the leading vessel form in Zalaszentbalzs, the break
being mostly about two or three cm below the rim.
Knobs are very often applied to the break. In the
succeeding Balaton-Lasinja culture the place under
the rim becomes convex and decorated with parallel
incisions, while the roundish knob gets more hanging
down. In the Lengyel material we have found one
black sherd with parallel incisions on the rim, too.
Egg-shaped pots with two little vertical handles on
the shoulder also occur. This, in a more developed
form, is typical of the Middle Copper Age.
In Zalaszentbalzs some sherds of fine black polished ware have been found. Besides these, there are
fragments of biconical types. As evidence that they
are not imports, and thus marginal phenomena: as it
were a small present from the former potter, pieces
of real graphite have been found near the sherds. It
is also to be noted, that this black ware is not very
common even in Balaton-Lasinja settlements. From
two sites excavated within the Microregion project
and one in the neighbouring Little Balaton area, only
three such fragments came to light from the Balaton-


Eszter BNFFY


Fig. 2 Middle Copper Age cultures in the Carpathian basin

2. kp Kzps rzkori kultrk a Krpt-medencben
Lasinja settlement of Zalaszentbalzs-Pusztatet.
To briefly sum up the conclusions that can be
drawn from the evidence discussed, it can be seen
that both Eastern Hungary and practically the whole
of Middle Europe with Lengyel antecedents, saw the
process of Chalcolithisation as a series of gradual
changes rather than having cultural gaps caused by
migration. Thus, the answer to the second problem
seems to be that Transdanubia was probably no
exception to the neighbouring regions.
I see the existing differences between our BalatonLasinja and the Ludanice culture only in proportion.
South-West Transdanubia received the most of the
south-eastern effects caused by Salcufa III and postVinca groups. As a secondary area in the Ludanice
culture in the surroundings of Budapest, such ele
ments are present, but are less concentrated (VIRG
1992.26-27.). Finally, the centre of the Ludanice


culture, lying further to the north-west, is also an

antecedent of Late Lengyel traditions, but the above
mentioned southern cultural influence barely rea
ched it (LICHARDUS-VLADR 1964.).
A detailed analysis of the possible roots of this
southern diffusion to the northern areas as Bavaria
at the period of the late Mnchshfen-Wallerfing
group, or the same as the subalpine region of Carantania/Krnten is essential, but it certainly exceeds the
frames of this short paper.
As mentioned above, our whole Copper Age chro
nology needs a basic revision, as its beginning must
probably be put to the 5th millennium (PETRASCH
1984., PARZINGER 1991.387-388.). In order to put
each - now known - link into its new and more
correct place, the clarification of relative chronology,
and that of the contacts of a larger territory is

Jsa Andrs Mzeum vknyve 1994

Transdanubia and Eastern Hungary in the Early Copper Age


BNFFY 1995. Bnffy, E.: jkkori s rzkori te

leplsek Zalaszentbalzs hatrban. [Neusteinzeitliche und kupferzeitliche Siedlungen in der
Gemarkungen von Haht und Zalaszentbalzs]
ZM 6.1995.
DIECKMANN 1987. Dieckmann, B.: Ein bemerkens
werter Kupferfund aus der jungneolithischen
Seeufersiedlung Hornstaad-Hrnle I. am west
lichen Bodensee. Arch. Nachrichten aus Baden
KALICZ 1970. Kalicz, N.: ber die Probleme der
Beziehungen der Thei- und Lengyel-Kultur. ActaArchHung 22.1970. 13-23.
KALICZ 1973. Kalicz, N.: ber die chronologische
Stellung der Balaton-Gruppe in Ungarn. In: Sym
posium ber die Entstehung und Chronologie der
Badener Kultur. Bratislava 1973.131-166.
KALICZ 1982. Kalicz, N.: A Balaton-Lasinja-kultra
trtneti krdsei s fmleletei. [The historical
problems of the Balaton-Lasinja-culture and its
metal finds] Archrt 109.1982.
KALICZ 1991. Kalicz, N.: Beitrge zur Kenntnis der
Kupferzeit im ungarischen Transdanubien. In:
Lichardus, J. (ed.): Die Kupferzeit als historische
Epoche. Bonn 1991. 347-387.
KALICZ-RACZKY1984. Kalicz, N.-Raczky, P.: Prelimi
nary report on the 1977-1982 excavations on the
Neolithic and Bronze Age tell settlement of Beretytyjfalu-Herply. Parti: Neolithic. ActaArchHung
KLLAY 1990 Sz. Kllay, .: Die kupferzeitliche Ring
anlage von Fzesabony. /AV73.1990.125-130.
KUTZIN1963. Kutzin, L: The Copper Age cemetery
at Tiszapolgr-Basatanya. ArchHung 42.1963.
KUTZIN 1972. Kutzin, B.I.: The Early Copper Age
Tiszapolgr-culture in the Carpathian basin. ArchHung 48.1972.
LICHARDUS-VLADR 1964. Lichardus, J.-Vladr, J.:
Zu Problemen der Ludanice-Gruppe in der
Slowakei. SlovArch XII. 1964.69-157.

MORRISON 1968. Morrison, I.A.: Relative sea level

changes in the Saliagos area since Neolithic times.
In: Evans, J.D.-Renfrew,C: Excavations at Saliagos
near Antiparos. London Appendix I. 1968.
PARZINGER 1991. Parzinger, H.: Zur Rachmani-Periode in Thessalien. Germania 69.1991/2.
PATAY 1974. Patay, P.: Die hochkupferzeitliche Bodrogkeresztr-Kultur. BRGK 55.191 A. 1-71.
PATAY 1983. Patay, P.: Gondolatok a rzkor fm
mvessgrl s trsadalmrl. [Gedanken ber
die Metallurgie der Kupferzeit und ihre Gesell
schaft] Archrt 110.1983.
PETRASCH 1984. Petrasch, J.: Die absolute Datierung
der Badener-Kultur aus der Sicht des sddeutschen
Jungneolithikums. Germania 62.1984/2
SIMON 1990. H. Simon, K.: Der Stand und die
Aufgaben der Neolithikum - und Kupferzeitfor
schung im Komitat Zala. ZM 2.1990.47-66.
STRAHM 1988. Strahm, Chr.: Chalcolithikum und
Metallikum: Kupferzeit und frhe Bronzezeit in
Sdwestdeutschland und der Schweiz. Rassegna
di Archeologica 7.1988.175-192.
TODOROVA 1989. Todorova, H.: Ein Korrelations
versuch zwischen Klimavernderungen und pr
historischen Angaben. In: Das neolithikum und
die frheste Bronzezeit (C14 3000-2000 bc in
Mitteleuropa: kulturelle und chronologische Be
ziehungen. Praehistorica XV. Praha 1989.25-28.
VIRG 1986. M. Virg, Zs.: Javarzkori leletek ZalavrBasaszigetrl. [Middle Copper Age finds from
Zalavr-Basasziget] Archrt 113.1986.3-14.
VIRG 1992. M. Virg, Zs.: jkkori s kzps
rzkori telepnyomok az M0 autplya szigetszent
miklsi szakasznl. [Neolithische und hochkup
ferzeitliche Siedlungsspuren an der Autobahn
trecke MO bei Szigetszentmikls] In: Havassy,
P.-Selmeczi, L. (eds.): Rgszeti kutatsok az MO
autplya nyomvonaln I. Budapest 1992.15-60.

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Institute of Archaeology of the
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
H-1250 Budapest Pf. 14.

Jsa Andrs Mzeum vknyve 1994


Eszter BNFFY

A Dunntl s Kelet-Magyarorszg
a kora rzkorban

Habr a krpt-medencei ks neolitikum s kora

rzkor nem tartozik a gyengn kutatott peridusok
kz, kt olyan tisztzatlan krdst talltam, amelyre
tanulmnyomban megksrlem a vlaszadst.
1. Hasonlan zajlott-e a Dunntl rzkoriasodsa
a kelet-magyarorszgi jl ismert lass, kon
tinuus tmenethez, vagy pedig ellenkezleg,
bevndorolt npcsoportoknak ksznhet,
akik trst okoztak a fejldsben?
2. Mi okozza, hogy a kora rzkor kialakulsa a
Dunntlon s Kelet-Magyarorszgon nem egyidben trtnik?
Az Alfldn lezajlott tmenet a rzkorba az utbbi
vek kutatsnak ksznheten meglehetsen is
mert folyamat. Kelet-Magyarorszg Dunntlhoz f
ztt kapcsolatait ismerjk. ppen itt jelentkezik a
problma, ugyanis a kora rzkori Tiszapolgr kul
trval prhuzamosan a Lengyeli kultra utols
(festetlen) szakasza l, amely egy minden tekintetben
neolitikus letformj kultra szerves folytatsa. Ezt
gy is kifejezhetjk, hogy a kelet-magyarorszgi kora
rzkor idejn a Dunntlon mg az jkkor tartott.
A Zala megyei mikrorgis kutatsok sorn tbb
krds j megvilgtsba kerlt, s ennek kszn
heten legalbbis az els problma nagy valszn
sggel megvlaszolhat.
A Zalaszentbalzs-szlhegyi mezn feltrt tele
pls a lengyeli kultra legfiatalabb szakaszba tar
tozik. A tiszapolgrival egyidejnek tlhet telepls

letrl valban egyfajta retardlt neolitikus kpet

alkothatunk. Ugyanakkor tbb jel utal a lass rzkoriasodsra is. A nagy kiterjeds telepen bell pl.
kisebb - valsznleg nem teljesen egyidej - tele
plsmagok keletkeztek, de a rzkori jelleg tr
sadalom lass kialakulsra utal az llattarts sze
repnek nvekedse, s nem utols sorban szmos j,
mr a java rzkori Balaton-Lasinja kultrra jellemz
ednytpus s technika (a fekete, polrozott, grafitos
kermia) megjelense is.
Meg lehet kockztatni azt a feltevst, hogy a len
gyeli alapokon kialakult java rzkori kultrk - ame
lyekhez ezentl a Balaton-Lasinja kultrt is soroljuk
- a sok hasonlsg mellett csupn abban kln
bznek, hogy minl dlebbre talljuk, annl tbb
bennk a balkni elem. gy Budapest krnykn az
ottani Ludanice kultra anyagban a Balaton-Lasinjhoz kpest kevesebb, a kisalfldi ludanicei
magterleten" pedig mr szinte semmi dli jelleg
zetessg nem fordul el a kermiban.
A Dunntl ksleltetett fejldsre egyelre nincs
egyrtelm magyarzat. Az okok kztt tbb tnyez
is szerepelhetett: a viszonylag szernyebb fmm
vessg vagy a tagoltabb geomorfolgiai adottsgok.
Eszerint a rzkor kezdetn bekvetkezett me
legebb s szrazabb idjrs hatott volna az alfldi
kultrkra, megneheztve ott a fldmvelst, a
Dunntl magasabban fekv, csapadkosabb s
hvsebb vidkein ez kevsb rvnyeslt, ezrt az
itt lakk nem knyszerltek a fldmvelst feladva
ttrni az llattartsra.

BNFFY Eszter
Magyar Tudomnyos Akadmia
Rgszeti Intzet
1250 Budapest Pf. 14.


Jsa Andrs Mzeum vknyve 1994